Books Lately


I have a number of books I owe reviews for because I received them from the publisher through NetGalley. However, writing reviews is not my favorite thing to do on this blog. I like to buy books, photograph books, lust over books, and read books, but straight-up reviews don't happen often enough. This post is an attempt to catch up a bit. I have every intention of doing better in the future but we will see how that goes. I enjoyed all of these books and think you would too.

I Met a Traveller in an Antique Land* by Connie Willis.  This novella tells the story of Jim, a blogger who has just appeared on a radio show where he insists that the demise of the physical books is necessary and acceptable. He then wanders through New York in the rain and stumbles upon a bookstore that isn't quite what it seems. When he goes through a door in the back he stumbles upon a storage warehouse for books. But what books are these? They are books that are lost forever in fires, floods, library cullings, and other unfortunate events. This is definitely a novella with a message. I enjoyed it but it was not Connie Willis at her finest. For that read To Say Nothing of the Dog or Domesday Book. 

Scarweather* by Anthony Rollins. In 1913 John and his cousin, Eric, visit a famous, and eccentric,  archeologist and his wife at their house on the English coast. Eric falls in love with the archeologist's wife. Eventually, John gets a message that Eric is missing, presumed drowned. The book then skips ahead about 15 years when John decides to look into his cousin's death a bit further. Frankly, I don't know why it took him so long since I could see the resolution a mile off. This was well-written and enjoyable even if very predictable.

Continental Crimes* is a British Library Crime Classics collection of short stories. I am not always a fan of short stories that are mysteries. They frequently feel a bit rushed. I did enjoy these. They are all set, in whole or in part, on the continent. I particularly remember A Bracelet at Bruges by Arnold Bennett. A woman is showing off her new bracelet while standing by a canal. It somehow gets dropped in and is gone forever--supposedly. There is also a story by Agatha Christie, one by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and G.K. Chesterton, among others. As with any short story collection, some are better than others.

Death Makes a Prophet* by John Bude. This is another British Library Crime Classic. The Children of Osiris is a new religion led by its mild-mannered prophet and financed by a very opinionated woman. The first half of the book does a lot of scene-setting and I almost forgot I was reading a mystery as I got caught up in the eccentricities and relationships of the characters. Then the murder-suicide occurred. Superintendent Meredith arrives and has no trouble putting all the pieces together.

I enjoy reading the British Library Crime Classics. It is wonderful to see so many of the Golden Age of detective fiction being reprinted. Of course, some are stronger books than others but, so far, I have enjoyed them all. I do have mixed feelings about receiving them through NetGalley since they only provide an e-book. The covers are so beautiful that I feel like I am missing out by not having a physical copy.

I recently reread A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. This is probably the five millionth time I have read it and I loved it just as much as the last time. If you haven't read the coming-of-age story of Francie Nolan in the Brooklyn of the early 1900s then do so now. It is a wonderful depiction of a time and a place but also of an imaginative, realistic child. Here is one quote for you.

From that time on, the world was hers for the reading. She would never be lonely again, never miss the lack of intimate friends. Books became her friends and there was one for every mood. There was poetry for quiet companionship. There was adventure when she tired of quiet hours. There would be love stories when she came into adolescence and when she wanted to feel a closeness to someone she could read a biography. On that day wen she first knew she could read, she made a vow to read one book a day as long as she lived. 

What have you been reading lately?

*Received from the publisher through NetGalley.

8 comments

  1. I’ve never heard of NetGalley. I’ll have to check it out. I’m just the opposite of you when it comes to writing reviews; I love doing them! It’s just sitting down and actually doing them and not always putting them off until you’re piled up with waiting books. And I think they’re are much easier to write than movie reviews too.

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    1. I don't mind writing reviews when I have a lot to say about the books but that isn't always the case. Sometimes it is just a book I basically liked but it isn't anything special and then I struggle. NetGalley is a good source of books. It is easy to go overboard and request too many though!

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  2. I have been meaning to read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn for years so I definitely must read it soon. Sometimes the covers are the best part of the British Library Crime Classics. I've never signed up for Netgalley, I'm not sure if I should as I would probably feel under pressure to review books.

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    1. Yes, read it! I would love to know what you think of it. It is one of the books I loved from my teenage years that has stood the test of time. I am very careful about what I request from NetGalley these days. I am trying to catch up on reviews I owe but then I am only going to request something if I really want it.

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  3. Short little reviews like this are good too. I don't always write long, gushy things myself.

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    1. I just don't always have a lot to say which is why I don't write a lot of reviews. I think this is a book appreciation blog instead of a book review blog!

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  4. That is a well-stocked book shelf! I love A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, too, especially the early chapters where Francie falls in love with the library.

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    1. I really need more bookshelves but I am running out of room for them. I tell my kids that when they move out I am turning one of the bedrooms into a library.

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